Liz Atkin

Liz Atkin is a visual artist based in London.  Widely known for her body-focused performances, Liz has a background in both dance and acting, and now regularly works as a teacher for Half Moon Young People’s Theatre and Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.

Atkin’s engagement with the arts has been affected by Compulsive Skin Picking (CSP), a complex mental and physical disorder characterised by the repetitive picking of the skin, and therefore linked with severe anxiety as well as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

Challenged by day to day activities, specifically by long commuting times, the artist soon found a creative way to exorcize her distress, giving birth to an unconventional drawing practice: #CompulsiveCharcoal.

Examples of Liz’s charcoal drawings

“At the time, some years ago, I had a job in North London” says Liz “while I was living in the South. Commuting was long and stressful and I would regularly have anxiety and panic attacks. I figured I had to do something about it. I started bringing my sketchbook with me. One day I ran out of paper, it was during the rush hour, so I started drawing on a newspaper. From that moment on, I didn’t really bother bringing the notebook.”

Atkin’s public art on trains began gathering attention, encouraging fellow commuters to ask questions, a priceless opportunity for the artist to raise awareness around mental health.

But Liz’s generosity doesn’t end here. Once finished, she would give away her art pieces for free. The lucky receivers started sharing the drawings’ pictures online, (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) thus creating a wave of mutual support on social media.

The reactions form people are so far being amazing, with Liz giving away almost 16.000 drawings, and travelling from New York City to Singapore.

People receiving their drawings

“I’ve got a lot of respect for this disease” concludes the artist “It stayed with me for a long time, it’s something that I value, a part of me. Expressing it through art and giving it away feels like it’s a good thing in the world.”

By compulsively drawing on newspapers, where reality is both reproduced and commodified, the artist challenges mainstream beauty. What’s deemed as “socially acceptable” becomes matter of dispute.

In fact, Liz’s commitment to artistic performances has helped greatly in redefining Mindfulness – the practice of being aware of your body, mind and feelings in the present moment – as a way to criticise media’s category construction.

To find out more about Liz Atkin’s works click on the links below.

Liz Atkin, Visual Artist and Creative Practitioner

Twitter: @Lizatkin

Instagram: /Liz­_Atkin

Written by Jessica Ciucci


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  1. […] Liz Atkin, artist from Forest Hill […]

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